Suns should consider trading Nash

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If Nash demands a raise, the Suns would be wise to consider all their possibilities.

If Nash demands a raise, the Suns would be wise to consider all their possibilities.

Let me preface this post by saying that aside from Ben York and his shrine to Steve Nash, I’ve got to be one of the biggest Nash fans in the blogosphere.

I absolutely love that a 6-foot-3 point guard with no ridiculous athletic gifts like a LeBron or a Kobe could win two MVPs and literally impose his own style on the league.

I am the guy in pickup doing his best Nash impersonation by driving under the hoop and back out looking for passing lanes.

In a perfect world, Steve Nash rides off into the sunset as a member of the Phoenix Suns, possibly taking on a diminishing role as Goran Dragic plays the Howard Eisley to Nash’s John Stockton.

In a perfect world, the Suns sign Nash to a two-year contract extension in the $8-10 million range, a fair price for a player of his age and expected effectiveness.

However, The Arizona Republic reported last week that Nash’s agent has requested a raise from his $13.125 mil salary next season.

Nash, 35, could get a 10.5 percent raise at most for 2010-11, a figure that would put his salary in the $14.5 million range, just a shade below the Chris Paul-Deron Williams stratosphere as far as pure point guards go.

Such a salary for Nash would severely limit any flexibility the club may gain during the 2010 free agency season, and overall the Suns would really have to think hard about if they want to allocate those kind of resources to a player who, frankly, has chronic back issues among other ailments.

It almost doesn’t make sense that Nash would ask for a raise. He doesn’t seem like a player obsessed with money and where he stands amongst the league’s money leaders, and he’s made enough millions in his career that another couple million certainly won’t prevent his twins from going to whatever college they want.

In the same breath as requesting that raise, Nash’s camp also talks about how he wants to play on a winning team, something that I would assume would be the No. 1 priority for a player nearing the end of an illustrious career without a ring. For some reason I assumed Nash would offer at least something close to a hometown discount in the name of giving the Suns a better chance to field a competitive team.

I really hope what his agent said is just agent speak and posturing because it just doesn’t sound like the Steve Nash that we all know and love and what Nash represents.

If the Suns decide that they don’t want to extend Nash in the $14 mil range – and they shouldn’t – then they’ve got to seriously consider the possibility of trading MVSteve even if Steve Kerr talks about Nash being the “face of the franchise” whenever he meets with the media.

Yes, I realize it’s sacrilegious in these parts to write such a phrase and it would be a sad day for all of us here at ValleyoftheSuns if that were to happen, but it’s one option the Suns just must consider.

In his last mailbag, Bill Simmons (yes, I realize I bring up one of his ideas in every other post) made an argument for the Spurs trading Tony Parker that sounds asinine at first blush but then makes some sense when you actually ponder it for a second.

Simmons makes the case that Spurs are stuck in 45-50-win purgatory with Duncan in decline, as they’re a team that’s good enough to make the playoffs and maybe win a round or two but not good enough to really make any serious noise in the playoffs.

He compared their situation to that of the late ‘80s Celtics, who would have been better off heading into the ‘90s if they had traded Kevin McHale to the Sonics for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins, but nostalgia just wouldn’t let them deal a player that meant as much to them as McHale did.

As much as we all hate to admit it, unless the Suns make some sort of move that doesn’t seem to be a possibility when considering their dearth of financial resources and limited roster flexibility, at best they will likely be a team good enough to make the playoffs but not quite good enough to make a serious run with an aging and declining core of Nash, Shaq (if he’s not traded) and Grant Hill (if he’s re-signed) to go with Amare Stoudemire if he’s not dealt.

Simmons argues that the Spurs can re-fashion a contender and be better set for the future by dealing Parker, and the Suns could possibly do that and more if they get a king’s ransom (or something close) for Nash, a player who could be the difference for a young, athletic team on the cusp.

“Look, the biggest mistake fading contenders make is not audibling near the end of the run, when they can turn an expensive chess piece into multiple guys and an infusion of young blood,” Simmons wrote.

Simmons also argues that you don’t deal your franchise player and Nash certainly has been that the past few years, but the reason so many teams do fade at the end of their run (like the old Utah teams with Malone and Stockton) is because they just play their run out and then have to start over cold.

If you’re Jordan and the Bulls where Jordan retires and then they break up like the Beatles after six titles in their last six full years together, that’s one thing.

But these Phoenix Suns certainly aren’t those Chicago Bulls, so while trading Steve Nash would make for a dark day in the Valley, it’s something the Suns will have to seriously look into if Nash holds strong on his demand for a raise.

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